A smartly composed, affecting memory album of the draftees and volunteers whose service and sacrifice for so long went...

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VIETNAM

A VIEW FROM THE FRONTLINES

From the testimony of combat veterans and their families, a military historian assembles a unique oral history of America’s most controversial war.

As the Greatest Generation recedes, Wiest (History/Univ. of Southern Mississippi; The Boys of ’67: Charlie Company’s War in Vietnam, 2012, etc.) offers the sobering reminder that their children who fought in Vietnam, “the 18-year-olds drafted in 1965 will turn 66” in 2013. He readily concedes that the individual stories preserved here are only tiny pieces of the war’s vast puzzle, but taken together, they help explain the military service of a million, largely working-class boomers. Eschewing a chronological or a “big events” presentation, the author takes us through chapters of the Vietnam experience as they unfolded for each man. Wiest groups his soldiers’ stories in sections devoted to their prewar lives, their arrival at various induction centers, their weeks of basic training and their entry into the theater of war. The author follows up with passages on their acclimation to Vietnam, where all learn the dangers of booby traps and mines, the terrors of combat, the hospital trials of the wounded, the changing attitudes prompted by the war’s brutal realities, the exhilarating flight out of Vietnam and the sometimes-rocky re-entry into civilian life. Now, decades after the most searing experience of their lives, these soldiers recall a war likely soon to receive a new burst of attention by a second generation of historians. Sprinkled throughout are interviews with stateside relatives, left behind to raise children, worry about their family members or, worse, receive the dreaded telegram informing them of a soldier’s death. No reader can expect to understand America’s most vexing war through this book alone, but none can comprehend it fully without factoring in these firsthand accounts.

A smartly composed, affecting memory album of the draftees and volunteers whose service and sacrifice for so long went unacknowledged.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-84908-972-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Osprey Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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